Saturday, November 10, 2012

Akaroa & Christchurch -October 30

Akaroa & Christchurch

In February 2011, the world was turned upside down in Christchurch New Zealand as the city was rocked by a 6.1earthquake. The devastation was widespread and many buildings were damaged beyond repair or simply fell down. May 25, 2012 the city was hit by the 41st quake of magnitude 5 or greater since Sept 2010.
We knew that we would be unable to enter the central city, we also knew this would likely be our only trip to the area.
So we again went to to find a local guide who could show us the beauty of the Akaroa Peninsula as well as Christchurch.
We found Craig Rome who owns and operates CANNZ Tours.
After the great experience we'd had in Hobart and the so-so experience we'd had in Dunedin, we had our fingers crossed as we met Craig.
We had no reason to worry as Craig gave us one of the best tours of our cruise!

First, the geography of the area (from a map in a cheese shop):
The Akaroa Peninsula is a classic volcanic basin with the bay where the ship anchored right in the center. Lyttleton Harbor, at the north end of the peninsula was the port where cruise ships always tied up prior to the series of earthquakes.

As we entered the harbor, the hills rose around the ship on every side

Since there was no pier to tie up, we dropped the anchor and were ferried to shore in life boats - a process they called tendering.

We met up with Craig and got underway. On the way out of the small resort town we saw that they also had been affected by the quake as was evidenced by the damage to this monument's upper parts.

We soon had gained enough altitude to have a fine view of the bay

Our first stop was this little cheese shop

The cheese was excellent

But we bought nothing - and took the opening photo from a poster on the wall

We stopped again after a while at the Hilltop Tavern

. . . for another scenic overlook of Barry's Bay and Akoroa and some more photo ops

After another short drive, we stopped at the Little River Rail Station

The station is a combination museum and "separation place" (places intended to separate tourists from their money ;-)

As we drove on, we encountered Lake Ellesmere, a huge lake where we saw black swans and their cygnets

In the distance across the lake, we could see the snow capped mountains in the distance

As we were driving, Craig swung into a farm drive and bought some fresh asparagus for our lunch

While this was our first sighting, we would learn that llamas are relatively common sight in New Zealand.

Craig took the "high road" over the mountain passes where we stopped at a turn out for tea!

Craig unfolded a cute fold-up picnic table out of his vehicle

Along with some delightful goodies including blueberry muffins, snack cakes, and other such delicacies. 
Bob was afraid he would overload the table so Craig broke out some folding "camp chairs"

Just above us was this peak

Peggy & Theresa toast "the good life!"

This stop provided a splendid view of Lyttleton Harbor (where ships moored prior to the earthquake) along with Rapaki island. Craif said the estimate is that they may start mooring cruise ships next year this time.

A great photo of the valley floor north and west of Christchurch

We went further across the mountain top and stopped again at a spring along the roadside. Peggy noticed some people drinking from it and asked. Craig said he'd driven the road a thousand time and never before noticed this spring!

It also offered an opportunity for a horticulture lesson for Theresa

A little further, we stopped again at the Kennedy Rest Area - so named for the rest station on the hiking trail (a few photos on). The parking area offered one final look back on Lyttleton Harbor

It also offered a nice view of this "mountain cabbage tree." The leaves droop as they age leaving room for the younger leaves. They are very tough and will tangle a lawn mower, so they are not good for having in the yard!

A few hundred yard walk brought us to the actual Kennedy Rest - a small open walled house that had a fireplace and restroom facilities

A little ways further, we passed the Sign of the Kiwi - originally another of the rest stops, now a cafe and gift shop.

Just down the hill from the lodge, we saw what we all took to be a church, but was in actuality another (more elaborate traveler's rest stop) being attended to by workers repairing earthquake damage.

Behind the traveler's rest was an overview where we could see all of Christchurch below.

As we entered the city itself, the effects of the quake became quickly evident. Rubble piles from demolished buildings were being prepared to be hauled away

The Catholic Cathedral was damaged beyond repair and was simply waiting for demolition - note the empty cargo containers being used to stabilize the structure until they were ready to bring it down.

Some buildings appear OK but contain serious internal structural damage.

Only a few buildings over four stories in the central business district were deemed acceptable t o be restored - the rest, like these, will be demolished

The iconic landmark is, of course, the Christchurch Cathedral - an Anglican Cathedral that dates back almost 150 years. The bell tower came down in the February 2011 quake and the rest of the structure was seriously damaged. It is slated for demolition as well.

Not everyone in Christchurch believes that CERA, the government agency formed to deal with the emergency and make decisions is correct with the decision to demolish the Cathedral. Time will tell if these folks get their way.

As we drove along the river, we could see some structures that have apparently survived including this arch leading to the bridge of remembrance - commemorating those who have served in the armed forces

The Avon River runs through downtown Christchurch and offers a peaceful respite

As well as an opportunity to ride in a punt - kind of like a gondola ride

Our final stop was at Craig's house where he prepared a luncheon fit for royalty!

His gardens are beautiful and gave Theresa an opportunity to see some great flowers

Best of all, Craig asked "Does anyone want to help in the kitchen?"

He did not have to ask Bob twice

We moved the table out of the sun room (since Bill has to be very careful about how much sun he gets)
The lunch included fresh asparagus, cheese, meats, fresh bread (Craig had made that morning), salad makin's, etc. along with several choices of juices and other drinks.

Flowers in Craig's garden

And some from a garden near the University

Craig let us off at one end of the walkway through the University Gardens and we would meet him at the other end

The gardens provide a great place for young love to bloom

And not so young lovers to stroll

On the way back to the ship, we saw this Maori lodge and stopped briefly just for a couple of photos

including the totem on the front peak

We took the "low road" back to "fleet landing"- not as scenic but more direct

One last group photo of the group. Throughout the day, Craig consistently treated us as guests rather than as clients. The difference is subtle sometimes, but it makes all the difference in the world.

Bob & Bill on the "liberty launch" i.e. tender

Oosterdam from the tender

We got back to the ship too late for our regular seating, so we were seated in the "anytime" section of the dining room. Peggy noticed that the ceiling "stars" changed color every 15-20 seconds!

Tomorrow: Wellington

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely bloody brilliant....
    Wonderful photos...Really enjoyed your blog on Hawaii as well...Thanks so much for giving me a job for the day back in October.
    Good folk such as yourself keep me in a job I really love.
    Heartfelt thanks to you all and particularly you the GREAT BLOGGER. Samuel Peeps a la 2013. Kia ora to you all.
    Craig Rome CanNZ Tours